Here at Macgasm, our team is a well-connected group of people from all over the world. We stay on the same page daily, updating each other throughout the day on the status of posts, upcoming todos and articles, and all sorts of other things. This is all made possible by a great tool called Basecamp, made by the excellent 37Signals. Needless to say, when a Mac-native alternative was announced, we paid attention, curious to see what it had to offer.

Kickoff is a team collaboration app that lets teams of people work remotely to collaborate on a project, or multiple projects. The app is beautifully designed, and works both online and offline. This is one serious advantage it has over it’s cloud-based competitors. Basecamp is a pricey solution, so of course we’re always on the lookout for affordable alternatives.

Unfortunately, it looks like Kickoff isn’t it. The app is plagued with two simple problems, both of which should have been forseen by the developers. First, Kickoff limits you to only 3 people on a team. Then they charge 20€/month ($28.57 at the moment in USD) for it. Our team has around 25 people on it, so this puts it out of the question.

But wait! They have a “team” plan, for 50€/month ($71.42) that unlocks a whopping 15 maximum team members. Yes, 15 people. So, nearly all organizations are too big to use this app from day one. I could see this working for freelancers, but then freelancers don’t usually have the budget for something like this. After all, you’d need the more expensive plan just to grant all your clients access to their projects. It seems like they must have had a very specific group of people in mind when making the app. This is usually a great thing, but in this case it may just be a bit too limiting.

Kickoff is a truly beautiful, capable app, with some really great collaboration features. Unfortunately, it may have a difficult time taking off with its current price plans and limitations. We’ll be sticking with Basecamp, needless to say. Your mileage, of course, will vary.

If you have the budget for it and don’t mind its limitations, Kickoff is a fantastic app. It would be ideal for a small team working at an upscale agency or firm, that doesn’t need more than a small handful of people to have access to a project at once. Hopefully, the developers will learn quickly from customer feedback and offer more plans with fewer limitations, and then it may really take off with a wider audience.

Kickoff is a great app, and it is certainly worth checking out. It’s a free download on the Mac App Store, and comes with a 15 day trial that should give you some time to try out all of its features and decide for yourself if one of the monthly plans could work for you. Give it a try and see for yourself!

UPDATE: After we published our article, we were contacted by the developers of Kickoff. They clarified that though this isn’t immediately clear from their website, the 3 and 15 member limits apply to projects, rather than to accounts. This may make the app work better for some teams.

It still would not work for a team like ours, because we need more than 20 people per project, which is more than their maximum plan allows for. We treat our team as just that—a team. Therefore, we all work on all projects as a team, which is why these limits fail to make sense to us. Why should a team be forced to lock their valuable team members out of a project for no reason other than an arbitrary limitation on an app’s membership plan? That’s how we see it. However, if your team doesn’t need to have more than 15 people per project (or 3 for the basic plan), Kickoff may work well for you and your group. It’s a very well-designed app, and one that’s well worth a look to see if it would work for you.

 

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